From airports to office buildings to national parks, policies on where you can and can’t vape seem to be changing every day. Unfortunately, these policies tend to be misguided and pushed by those with an anti-vaping agenda. The case is no different with university campuses. Schools around the world are adding vaping to their smoking bans. Because if you’re trying to curb smoking among uni students, you’d definitely want to ban the tool that many people have chosen to use as a quitting aid, right?
One of those schools is New Zealand’s University of Otago, which has a student population of almost 19,000. In an internal memo, staff at the university were told that “e-cigarettes, e-hookah and any other vaporisers (whether delivering nicotine or not)” have been included in the school’s smoke-free policy. It seems silly, hasty, and downright counterintuitive to ban vaping from campus while research continues to suggest people are using it as a way to help them quit traditional smoking, and that vaping does not lead to smoking in non-smokers. They’re even banning non-nicotine products!
Marewa Glover, a tobacco researcher and health professor at Massey University, another New Zealand institution, agrees.
“It’s shocking,” she said of the decision. “We should be trying to help students – and staff, if they still smoke – to quit smoking.”
In response to the university president’s statement that allowing vaping could “encourage dual use (e.g. cigarettes and vaporisers) and deter cessation,” Professor Glover cited research she had conducted that showed youth made a clear distinction between smoking and vaping.
No matter which way you look at it, it seems way too early in the game to be banning vaping on university campuses outright. The 18 – 25 age group is one of the most susceptible to combustible cig addiction and we feel that more research should be done before banning them from using products that have great harm reduction potential.